VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Portland Timbers breathed new life into their playoff hopes with a 3-0 thumping of Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Saturday evening.
After a nervy first half, which saw neither side offer much in the attack, Alvas Powell headed home a cross at the near post in the 51st minute to give the Timbers the lead.
Portland never looked back after that, and goals from Maxi Urruti and Rodney Wallace sealed the crucial victory for the visitors.
The win moves Portland (8-8-10, 34 points) back into the playoff places in the Western Conference at the expense of Vancouver (7-6-12, 33 points), but the Whitecaps still have a game in hand over the Timbers.
Vancouver took the game to Portland early and the impact of newly-signed wide man Mauro Rosales was already evident.
It was his cross to Pedro Morales five minutes in that led to Vancouver's best chance of the half, but the Chilean playmaker headed over from close range.
The game sprang to life six minutes into the second half when Powell was allowed to run in to the near post unmarked to head home a Diego Valeri cross and give the visitors the lead.
Vancouver struggled to get any attack going in their push for an equalizer, and though Mauro Rosales came close with a fierce shot that crashed into the side netting, slack defending saw Portland double their advantage moments later.
Michael Harrington had been on the field for a matter of seconds when he found fellow sub Urruti at the edge of the box, and the Argentine was allowed time to turn before crashing a fantastic finish in off the bar in the 75th minute.
Worse was to come for Vancouver four minutes later when Darlington Nagbe slipped in the Wallace for Costa Rican to coolly finish low past David Ousted.
Vancouver look to bounce back quickly when continue a three-game home stand with Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United heading to BC Place next Saturday. Portland, meanwhile, return home to take on the San Jose Earthquakes in another important all-Western Conference clash next Sunday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Alvas Powell||Looked nothing like the youngster we saw struggle early in the season. Patrolled the right flank with ease and got forward to get the littlest of touches and open the scoring.|
|2||Darlington Nagbe||Had a few moments of brilliance in this one, the best coming when he dribbled Laba and got O'Brien to go the wrong way before feeding Wallace for Portland's third|
|3||Liam Ridgewell||Credit where it's due - Portland kept their 2nd clean sheet of the year in large part thanks to Ridgewell's outstanding play at the back.|